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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 9, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 28
Seattle Men's and Women's Choruses glittered at Pride
Arts & Entertainment
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Seattle Men's and Women's Choruses glittered at Pride

by Rod Parke - SGN A&E Writer

Seattle Women's Chorus and Seattle Men's Chorus Glitter and Be Gay
June 26
McCaw Hall


I'm a Gay man who, with a few exceptions, doesn't like musicals! I mention this, not because I think you should be interested in my tastes, but because West Side Story is such great stuff that even I love, love, love it. This concert by the Seattle Men's Chorus and the Seattle Women's Chorus featured a lot of Bernstein and Sondheim, and these two talents joined forces to make West Side Story the masterpiece it is.

The program began with both choruses on stage, with the SWC looking even bigger than the SMC. A more appropriate opening could not be imagined: "Something's Coming" and "Tonight," both of course from West Side Story. A large orchestra, expertly miked, occupied the pit and never swamped the singers. In general, the concert moved very quickly from number to number, so that an amazing amount of musical terrain was traveled. Most of the evening had a rare coherence because of the history of these two composers.

A special element in that coherence was the extremely articulate and informative narrative between sets by David Armstrong, producing executive artistic director of The 5th Avenue Theatre. His enthusiasm and intelligence made one feel you'd have to be crazy not to love this music.

So integrated were the SWC and SMC that the printed program did not even distinguish between which numbers were sung by which chorus or by both. Sensible Shoes (from the SWC) and Captain Smartypants (from SMC) both performed and at one point joined forces for an effective condensation of Sweeney Todd in five minutes! The guest soloist for the evening was Megan Chenovick, who sang "Glitter and Be Gay" with superb showmanship as well as excellent coloratura. She got the biggest applause all evening by far.

Having met my partner Dale in the second tenor section 29 years ago, I can say I have attended (or sang in) every program ever put on by SMC, many of which have included some effective dance numbers. We moved up a notch this time, however, with the appearance of members of the Spectrum Dance Theater. Their contribution was a highlight of the whole program.

When I was a poor student in NYC, I was fortunate enough to see the original cast in West Side Story not once, but twice. Most of the numbers in this concert from that show stood up quite well to comparisons with the original & not the same raw punch of the Broadway production, but very respectable nonetheless. Because I am quick to tears generally, the most effective numbers of the whole evening came at the end of the printed program: "One Hand, One Heart" and "Somewhere," both of course from West Side Story. Sondheim got his share of the program, but it was the Bernstein that moved me most.

Reviewer Rod Parke can be reached at rmp62@columbia.edu.

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